Re: voice tracking (beauchamp james w )

Subject: Re: voice tracking
From:    beauchamp james w  <j-beauch(at)UX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU>
Date:    Tue, 2 Jul 2002 11:18:16 -0500

Dear Piet Vos, Thanks for the interesting question. It is true that we hear the higher voices best, but it may be that we hear best in the range 1000 - 3000 Hz -- this certainly shows up on equal-loudness curves. Male tenor voices certainly do very well against the orchestra, and analysis shows that they project a lot of energy in a range around 2000 Hz. Cellos and trombones also due very well. Finally, I note three phenomena that favor the lower notes: First we tend to associate pitch with the fundamental rather than the harmonics, but high energy harmonics can enhance the voice's ability to stand out. Second, although soprano notes are easiest to hear, bass notes may be the second easiest to hear, whereas inner voices, with their increased masking, tend to blend together. Third, if a given voice is performing a familiar melody, that will greatly its chance of being heard out. On a different topic, how does one join Psymus? I hope the traffic is not too great. Jim Beauchamp University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign On July 2, 2002, you wrote: > Hi, > > Could anybody tell me about the availability of empirical/experimental > data about the following phenomenon. When listening to plural voiced > music, say a simple choral or hymn, it is quite easy, if not natural / > default, to track the soprano voice, whereas it requires attention > (effort, training..) to track lower voices. Similarly so, there exist > much more concerto's for a high pitched solo instrument (eg violin) and > orchestra than for combinations with low-pitched instruments. It's > natural to suppose that the reasons are eventually found in > psycho-acoustic constraints such as the anisotropic aural sensitivity > for auditory frequencies and masking effects. This question was recently > addressed also to the Psymus list, dedicated to music perception and > performance issues, and received a few relevant answers on the possible > mechanisms behind the phenomena, but is was suggested that no empirical > research data are available. > > Thank you in advance for your help, > > Piet Vos > -- > Piet G. Vos > section Perception NICI, U. Nijmegen > P.O.Box 9104 > 6500 HE Nijmegen NL > tel: +31 24 36126 31/20; fax: +31 24 361 60 66; vos(at) > home-page: > >

This message came from the mail archive
maintained by:
DAn Ellis <>
Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University